201: Leanna Tu | Instagram Nutritionologie | RitzFit Expert | Registered Dietician and Nutritionist
She is one of the experts that looks at the products that Ritzfit finds to offer to their clients.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m a registered dietician. I live in northern California. My primary job is working at a hospital taking care of very acutely ill patients all day. I love it and the medical aspect of it but I also wanted to expand and work a little bit on the prevention side in terms of
how can the food that we eat in prevent ourselves of getting sick or lower the risk of some chronic diseases
That’s where I started my Instagram page
that are pretty simple to make
specific ingredients and facts for my followers
That’s how I connected with Mark from Ritzfit! And Jackie as well.
I think one of the things listeners, we’ve been talking about the science of food, it’s nice to have another resource if you are a market farmer and someone comes up to you and says there’s no difference or reason to pay the price of organic food.
I met a farmer at the market the other day I asked to do an interview with me, and he said oh there’s no difference between an organic farm and conventionally raised food. And it was extra funny because I had these peas for people to try on my table and a friend tasted one and she was like oh, I already bought some she was like oh these are so much tastier! So it’s nice to have another resource for clients, friends, family…
I have a lot of food allergies. When I was a little kid I was always aware of what could potentionally hurt you or kill you so I was always reading nutrition facts and ingredients and labels. When I was in middle school I was really small and not growing and thriving like a normal child should.
So my mom took me to more a functional holistic doctor and they did some dietary modifications that resulted in improvements in health.
I wasn’t having to skip a week of school for example. That’s when I realized food can not only harm you but it can actually heal you and be beneficial for your health as well.
So I’ve had this saga of interest in food and a very intimate knowledge of the power of food. I’ve always loved science. I did my undergrad at UCLA. Initially I was thinking about becoming a doctor and finding the cure for childhood allergies! But after various research experiences I realized I didn’t love working in the lab as much as I loved working with people.
Nutrition and Dietetics
The whole field of nutrition and dietetics appealed to me because it combined those interests of science and nutrition as well as the aspect of working with people
- Masters at Cal State LA
Now I’m back in northern CA. Through all of that. There are many facets field of nutrition. My main day job is very clinical, working with drs and pharmacists
I worked a lot in the public health realm where people are pushing for expansion of farmers markets in East LA. Promotion of local homegrown food in places where people don’t even have access to normal grocery stores!
- Fast Food chains
- corner markets
I love that facet as well because it brings together
- produce in the market
- people who maybe haven’t experienced fresh food before
CA there are so many different farms
plethora of fresh food available as you drive to southern ca and back
It was always interesting to have the accessibility between the food and people that need it.
I still love going to the farmer’s markets here locally!
Another ironic thing is here’s these food deserts and then the majority of food in our country is grown in California. Most of my listeners are in California.
talking to the people there…
I love my local farmer’s markets! Everything’s so fresh it’s my favorite. It’s my favorite thing to do on Saturday morning! I head straight to the
- don’t go to the prepared food stands
- love getting my vegetables there
- organic Chinese vegetables
- ridiculously fresh
- other things
- my favorites
- sugar snap peas
I love those! I usually take a lap or two around first and scout out who’s there
Sometimes I have a list of things I specifically need
- green onions
- fresh carrots
Other times I just go but I love
- trying new things I’ve never gotten before
It’s an experience that allows me to be creative and think of new things I can do in the kitchen if I never used them before.
Let’s say your talking to one of your patients who never goes to the farmer’s market and doesn’t know anything about nutrition. What would be the first step, try some new vegetables?
Usually if I’m just talking about healthy eating and a sustainable diet that’s very general. I’m usually pushing vegetables asking my patients to have half of their plate as vegetables!
- 1/4 protein 1/4 starches
- majority of people it works pretty well
People tend to ask
what do I do with the vegetables?
Maybe they’re familiar with only
I tell them there’s so much you can do with that half of your plate
- do salads
- roast your vegetables
- vegetable soup
I usually walk them through different options that they may have heard about
Well what about tomatoes? Oh I love tomatoes
What about carrots? Oh, I don’t love carrots ok that’s fine!
- brussel sprouts
ideas of things they might be inclined to do after we do that we can talk about different options for how to prepare those but I also suggest if they have access and have time of trying a new vegetable
out there are delicious
- purple cauliflower
- radishes to your salad
People get stuck in ruts and you’re only eating steamed broccoli every day you’re not going to be excited about that half of your plate so I say think about adding 1 new vegetable suggest going to the Farmer’s Market because that’s where you get the most beautiful produce and hope they get as excited about these types of foods as I do!
At the farmer’s market the best selection of food that’s in season.
For me the tough one is fruit. I could eat vegetables all day long but fruit. I joined this nutrition group instead of pushing a bunch of fruit she was like just eat 2 apples, one banana a week to start. I like those tips add one new vegetable a week into your diet.
It’s really about approaching and meeting the person where they’re at. If they’re dealing with a whole bunch of medical problems
difficult I have to change my whole diet
- incorporate different vegetable or food
- change the types of protein that your eating
- cooking methods
step by step to make sustainable
Some people can do that complete overall but that’s a small percentage. Most need to go slow and steady to make last.
I wrote this blog post for my teaching/children’s book website called 8 things I wish every kindergarten parent knew but what would be one thing you wish every patient knew. You were talking about prevention more then reactice and that might be more vegetables.
I do push eating more vegetables a lot and if they do its the same vegetable over and over. There’s great value in having a variety of different foods
You can’t benefit form that if you are only eating one fruit or vegetable
benefit to a greater extent
increase the variety and volume of fresh produce you’re getting in your diet.
Not focussing on fear of foods.
I’m not allowed to eat that
80% eat well have a clean diet
20% food is so much more then it’s nutritional profile
if someone bakes me something that’s delicious and they put a lot of hard work into it but it’s not as maybe as it could be. I’m still gonna have it, because I give myself the leeway
If people are trying to have a healthier lifestyle and they are trying to lose weight an inflammatory diet
difficult to be so so strict
distorted perception of foods
eat more of these things
80% of the time take care of your diet.
I like that a lot.
Do you want to talk about the importance of local food sources?
I think it’s super important for people
I’m lucky that I live in a state where there is so much produce and I want to support the local ag as opposed to the grocery store. There is something about food that is grown close to you, not just carbon foot print but also on a nutritional basis.
There was a study of 2008 or 2009? (idk if this is the study she’s talking about)
There was a study about vitamin C that was conventional organic
in season out of season
organic had slightly higher nutritional profile
seasonal broccoli had so much more almost 2xs as much as broccoli out of season
could have been frozen or grown not in peak season
1/2 the amount of vitamin C compared to the broccoli fresh and close to in season
That is a pretty big difference so if you have access that is grown in season and support your local agriculture and have it taste really good!
So much fresher!
a bite of an organic apple in the fall
they are like this is so amazing I never had one so sweet!
This is when you’re supposed to eat it and they didn’t know that made a difference!
I think that’s important because I get in my bubble, I just automatically assume if you’re at the market it’s organic and if your growing a garden you’re not putting chemicals on it.
That’s where I believe a lot of the vendors at the market or dietician at the grocery store can make a difference in terms of educating people
I love when the people at the grocery stand are knowledgable about their products
pasteurized or non-pastuerized
Which makes a big difference
Maybe have gotten a transplant and are very concerned about immuno surperessent
people to be able to educate others about how great their crops are. If you have done research about how great their crops are
research in broccoli
draw people in and create a conversation Wow! not only does this taste good but it’s good for you!
Lots of great resources where you can learn this info
I try to publish nutrition tidbits on my instagram
American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) that’s a great resource and a very reputable resource to go to!
Look at wow! Maybe cherries can have this phyto-chemical that can reduce this risk of cancer or I love what they do. AICR.org
You can look up various different types of produce and see what a reputable health organization has to say about their health benefit
It’s not a for sure statement, I am prescribing you that your health will follow
this may cause that.
It’s interesting and people really love that! If we can get them excited of the power of food!
One thing I’m curious about almonds, I always feel so guilty every time I buy almond milk or butter, or almonds. What is pasteruization?
pasteruization is just a process
very short time to kill
that could potentially kill food borne disease
Some of my patients that are immune suppressed can not have un-pasteurized food. I don’t want them to get a food borne illness.
food borne illness
a little tid bit if you’re having fresh squeezed juice for the majority of the population there’s always a risk that it’s
- not washed all the way
- soil bacteria on it
- that could be harmful for people
So just be aware of that.
IT’s all interesting for me, our goal has been to grow enough for us or at least supplement our produce bill and eat as healthy as we can. I tried to take some food to the farmer’s market and then Saturday I did a Facebook Live at the Farmer’s Market in Kalispell to see what’s there.
I also always tell people I would be a horrible CSA customer to be in the same day same time every week, I’m an on demand mobile girl going to the farmer’s market or a CSA is just not for me. And looking at all the food those people grow IDK how they do it?! Mike does so much work to grow for 2 of us. I can’t imagine feeding 100 families?!
What do you like to cook the most?
It kind of depends on the season
in the summer I love my fresh produce
- white nectarines
- sugar snaps
- tossing in a salad or quick stir fry
But come Fall and Winter I eat a lot of roasted vegetables and vegetable soups that are warming and comforting
Almost every Sunday afternoon I’m chopping vegetables and sticking four sheet pans in my oven
- sweet potatoes
- brussel sprouts
- whatever I really have
that’s my easiest thing to do for me for MEAL Prepping
then I have fresh veggies ready for me
- over some lettuce
that’s one of my favorite things to do especially in the cooler months.
Do you use a cookie sheet?
use avacado oil that has a really high smoke point I feel comfortable doing it on high heat
- roast my veggies at maybe 400 degrees
- chop them up
- sweet potatoes put in a big bowl
- drizzle with oil
- salt pepper
- dried herbs
- cookie sheet covered with parchment paper or aluminum foil
- stick it in at 400º
vegetable roasting guides for how long to cook
brussel sprouts and roasted beets
take half an hour
cook in maybe 15 minutes.
I love using spices when I can
chop up some cauliflower
- drizzle with olive
- salt & pepper
- to help
anti inflammatory anti cancer spice!
- chili and garlic powder
adds a pop to every dish
thats one example for you
I like to incorporate more spices wherever.
I feel like I keep hearing people talking about turmeric and I like that so much better cooking with it!
- such a great flavor
- can stain a little bit
- one example one of the more popular spices right now
- huge body of research
- turmeric’s ability
most spices are very concentrated potent forms of antioxidants
it’s the plant seeds or leaves or bark that’s been ground down
I love using things like
- chili powder
- garlic powder
very powerful in terms of their health benefits
- anit-microbial properties
- basil is delicious
- lemon zest
- add such a pop to your dressings
make your produce all that much more appetizing to your
I like being able to experiment in the kitchen
basic looking techniques doesn’t take much more to add a pinch of this or that!
I think listeners will like this!
Lots of fun!
A favorite internet resource?
I do really like ARCR.org focusing on nutrition and cancer prevention which people are interested in. It’ s really powerful.
I do a lot of podmed
I use that a lot for my own research
In terms of an approachable website in terms of cooking
How to recipes
nice fun recipes and also articles on how to
- how to poach a chicken
- make a chia pudding
- pickle onions
well tested and easy to follow
From a cooking perspectice how to change things up
- how to properly make something
- make pesto
- convey out there if people know the power of food in terms of helping you feel great keep spreading it,
If you’ve been listening I [played a bunch of epsidoes from my friend Marisa who’s a private chef she talked about thekitchn.com too!
- keep spreading the word
- eating well
- using local produce
- all these things will benefit our health and our relationship
- go out there and spread
more you know in terms of the science behind nutrition the better advocate you are for your own home grown food or encouraging others to do the same!
If there was one change you would like to see to create a greener world what would it be? For example is there a charity or organization your passionate about or a project you would like to see put into action. What do you feel is the most crucial issue facing our planet in regards to the environment either in your local area or on a national or global scale?
I think there’s a lot of things, I’m more familiar with the food industry in our country as opposed to a global scale. There are certain bills that make subsidies to make crops.
The oils are inflammatory to our bodies.
- If we can find a higher way to advocate for more sustainable farming practices
- People to have access to local foods
- support the local farmer
That would make a big change I understand that has to be on a higher level scale to a higher level even from the grassroots level by spreading awareness we can create action and by having our voice this is when we can say this is something we want
when I was working back in east LA
we came in from UCLA to try to create a local movement, ulitmately the people in the community have to say we want fresh food. We want to bring produce into our corner market so it’s not just fast food chips, alcohol
there was a program called food justice at local high school to advocate for yourself
start with you just being local vocal to your neighbors or bring over fresh vegetables or something like that
the more people that know the more demand it will create
eventually our lawmakers will love that more
Are you a millenial?
I love Millennials! I feel like they are the generation that is finally gonna say we’re not putting up with this, we’re gonna vote with our dollars and the social aspect of it!
Maybe they’re afraid to go to the market and put a sign out that says did you know my brocooli has 2xs as much vitamin C or I think listeners will like the avacado oil tip!
I still love olive oil for lower heat …. other things having it cool and raw
so much you can learn in nutrition I’m still learning so I can stay abreast the best thing you can do is find reputable sources
Try to stick to the
- larger organizations
- educate yourself as best you can
- ask questions and listen to podcasts
The more knowledge you accumulate the more you can do!
II think that you’re gonna inspire a listener or a listener with a college age student will know someone wanting to go into the sciences.
I’ve always loved it. When I was a kid I grew up watching animal shows
middle schools, high school biology has always been my subject
physics tackled it
I think women in the sciences It’s becoming a bigger and bigger thing
in my hospital it’s almost 50/50 ratio of woman vs men working in health. Pursue what you are interested in. I always had an inclination biology and chemistry
You can love healthy food
How do we connect with you?
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